We are all connected. This old adage is truer now more than ever in the history of mankind. All thanks to this invisible thing we call the internet. It opened a lot of possibilities and connection. And it paved the way to what we call the digital lifestyle.
Meaning Of Digital Life And Digital Lifestyle
Technology has made a huge impact in the way we live our lives. It improved the way we do things. It changed the way we shop, do our work, make business deals, share information, and so on.
We become more and more reliant on our computers and phones to do work for us. And as technology becomes more sophisticated, we’re going to develop more reliance. In short, life has become digital.
If you observe around you, more and more people seem to be living in their phones. Most people can’t put it down to have a decent conversation for about an hour. Ask them to turn off their phone, disconnect it from the internet, and they freak out.
A digital lifestyle isn’t entirely a bad thing. In fact, it has made us live a more efficient and comfortable life. Yet there’s this one lingering question that beget this article in the first place. If we’re enjoying this much comfort and connectedness, why is it that we feel lonelier and lonelier?
Social Media Makes Us Unsocial?
There’s been an on-going debate whether Social Media makes us unsocial or not. There are those who are on the side of social media and say that it doesn’t affect their social skills. And there’s a smaller group who believes that social media and our digital lifestyle has affected our lives differently.
In my opinion, social media isn’t really the issue here. It’s only a tool for faster and better communication. The bigger issue is in the way we use it. Posting pictures for silent bragging. Measuring our self-worth based on the number of likes we get. Comparing our behind the scenes with other people’s highlight reels.
No, social media may not be making you “unsocial.” But it sure as heck is affecting your mental health. Here’s Allison Graham’s TEDx Talk on how social media affects our life:
She’s made some solid points in her talk. When people I’m with are texting or browsing on Facebook when we’re talking, it doesn’t feel good. It feels like there’s someone more important on the other end of the screen than what we’re talking about. In a way, it makes me feel disconnected with who I’m with.
Of course, I’m guilty of that, too. There are more than a few times I’ve made people feel that way. And maybe you do, too. Maybe you’ve felt that way before? Or maybe you make those around you feel away from you when you browse your phone instead of talking to them?
If you want to live a more connected life and strengthen your relationship, it’s time to make a decision.
Choosing A Better Digital Lifestyle
If you’re reading this, you’re part of the top 59% of the global population who have access to the internet. To you, digital lifestyle is the norm. However, choosing the kind of digital lifestyle you’re going to live is up to you.
The majority of the people you’ll see live a digital life that’s unintentional. It’s by default, not by design. Monkey see, monkey do.
And it’s not their fault. Tech companies have invested BILLIONS (yes, with a capital B) of dollars to make their stuff addictive. Your mobile phone? Social Media? That tablet or portable computer? All of those are designed to make you addicted to it.
Being an essentialist means living life with purpose – with intention. It not only means being aware of what’s important; but choosing to focus and prioritize it. It means living a larger, more fulfilling life that you otherwise couldn’t have lived.
You’re not in competition with other people. You’re in a competition with yourself.
Here’s Graham Hill to give more insights on this topic. He’s the founder and CEO of LifeEdited, an architecture company which believes that you can live large in a small space. And he’s applied the principle of less but better not just in building homes, but in living a digital lifestyle, too.
Here are some ideas on how you could live a better digital lifestyle.
Choose Your Apps
Our mobile phones are one of the most priced and private possessions we have. We take it wherever we go. In fact, studies show that more than 50% of adults claim they can’t live without it. The fact is, mobile phones are a part of our lives.
Problem is, most people’s phones are nothing but a collection of clutter. Old pictures that nobody enjoys looking at, unused apps, unwatched movies or videos, and so on. It’s a collection of old things that collect digital dust.
One way you can enjoy a better digital lifestyle is by choosing the apps you’re using. You don’t have to be in every social media platform – even if you’re a digital entrepreneur. You don’t have to be on:
- And so on
All at the same time. Chances are you use 20% of your apps, 80% of the time. Focus on those. You may even arrange your apps depending on how often you use it. Put your most used apps on your home screen. The ones you use at least once a week on the next. Then the ones you use once or twice a month on the third one.
Imagine how much time you’ll regain control of when you decide to prioritize using apps that are making an impact in your life. Which brings me to my next point…
Practice Digital Minimalism
Bestselling author Cal Newport popularized the concept of Digital Minimalism. He said that:
Digital minimalism is a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding these tools) add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise, and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life.
Intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise. That’s one of the things that resonates with me in a big way. As I previously shared with you, our phones are sometimes filled with clutter. So much so that it eats up a lot of our digital storage.
In fact, at one point, my phone kept on giving me virtual pokes. Reminding me that I had to clean it up. Otherwise, I won’t have enough space for it to function in the best possible way.
From gigabytes of storage, only a handful of megabytes remained. My phone was full of apps I didn’t use, photos I didn’t even know existed, unwatched videos. Low-value digital noise.
Since I’ve practiced digital minimalism, I pared the number of apps in my phone down to 62 (Image on the left). 33 of which are ‘default’ apps I can’t even delete. The remaining 29 apps are the ones I use almost everyday. Mostly for business. Here’s a guide on how to do that.
Digital Minimalism isn’t only applicable to your phone. But to your computer or laptop as well. Start going through your files and delete what’s not bringing value to you. Organize your files into folders and categories, so you can find them easier.
Allocate Your Time
Another way you can choose to design a better digital lifestyle is by allocating your time with the use of social media. Instead of constantly picking up your phone when you’re working, pick a time to enjoy it. Decide on when you’re going to use it and focus on enjoying your use of it during that time.
Your goal here isn’t to limit yourself. It’s about focusing on doing one task at a time so you can be more effective.
You see, social media isn’t really harmful if you have self-control. Start practicing by deciding to be intentional. Put your phone away or hide it from your sight. Then once you’re done, come back to it and enjoy using it on the time you set. This way, you wouldn’t have to guilt yourself to death when you’ve realized you wasted hours of your time scrolling.
You might be thinking, “Jeric, what do you mean by screen-time fasting?” It simply means that for a certain period of time (usually one day), you won’t be in front of a screen. Not a TV, a computer, a laptop, or whatever. It’s your time offline.
You can spend your time reading books, having in-depth conversation, writing, or whatever. You can go camp, journal, or reflect and think about your life. As long as you spend time away from screens.
This isn’t something a lot of people talk about. Why? Because it’s unusual. Having and enjoying a digital lifestyle is what’s normal. And choosing not to use any technology poses a threat of being asked if you’re living under a rock.
Doing this will take your mind off from the urge of getting updates from your friends, as if it’s life-altering information. How? Because you have no choice but to otherwise spend your time doing boring things. Which is good for the brain since it’s where most inspired ideas come up.
Final Thoughts On A Better Digital Lifestyle
Choosing to live a better digital lifestyle doesn’t happen in an instant. In fact, it’s not recommended. Take it slow.
Pick an idea and apply that in your life. Stay with it until you have it integrated with your lifestyle. Until it feels normal – like you wouldn’t have it any other way. Then pick another one and do the same.
Remember: it’s not a race. And you’re not competing with anyone.
Live an inspired life,